Pathway to New Beginnings
Featuring: Featuring Dr Lauren Fisher, Dr. Eleni Boosalis, Alycia Burant & Dr. Amy F. Parks
Photography by Jonathan Thorpe
Community is at the core of Alycia Burant’s practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor at Healthy Minds—an emotional healthcare practice located in Old Town, Alexandria with a team of 24 professionals, including a Director of Operations & Director of First Impressions, graduate level interns, resident counselors, and licensed contractors.
“My mission at the outset was to build relationships and immerse myself in the culture so I could understand the needs of others.”
The goal, she says, was to understand how she could use her skill set to improve people’s lives. A Virginia Tech alum, she says she knew early on in her studies she wanted to help others, believing mental stability is the key to success.
“I really loved my first intro to psychology class. I leaped into the field and never looked back. It always felt right and comes very naturally to me.”
Alycia believes mental healthcare professionals are leaders in their communities, saying mental health challenges “do not discriminate,” and her goal is to provide a safe space for anyone seeking help, where each professional has a role and purpose in providing care.
“Everyone is affected [by emotional health issues] and we want to make sure we continue to advocate for quality and accessible care for all. We serve and walk alongside all types of members of our community.”
The mission of Healthy Minds, Alycia says, is to provide hope, particularly during a time of an acute global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, which she says has caused a shift in their business model and the mental health industry at large. Getting creative about spreading their message, Healthy Minds produces blog and video content to provide socially distant access to mental health resources.
“We want to help by offering free services to our community such as webinars, workshops and some pro bono counseling services. We also collaborate with other local businesses—such as Ease Yoga and South Block—to support the local economy.”
Alycia encourages patients not to wait when it comes to seeking care, saying clients can define their own experience with therapy, and gently reminding them Healthy Minds is a safe space for all.
“We recognize the strength and courage it takes to reach out to us. We get it, we’ve been there. This is a place for you to work through whatever issue you have in hopes of coming out a healthier, happier person on the other side.”
DR. LAUREN FISHER & DR. ELENI BOOSALIS
Drs. Lauren Fisher and Eleni Boosalis believe that the mind and body are completely connected. It’s been the guiding principle in their careers in the mental healthcare field—both of which span over a decade—and a vision they share as co-owners of Del Ray Psych and Wellness, which launched in September, 2018.
“Integrating the treatment of the mind and body, energy psychology, spirituality, family dynamics, and mindfulness training in our sessions helped make deeper and more permanent changes in people’s lives. - Dr. Boosalis.
Their range of services includes psychotherapy, career counseling, family therapy, couples therapy, EMDR, hypnotherapy, substance abuse counseling, intuitive eating and gender reassignment surgery, mindfulness meditation classes, and yoga. The best approach, they say, is the natural one.
“We found that our best treatment outcomes were a result of using a holistic approach in psychotherapy. In our previous places of employment, we felt the medical model of treatment wasn't cutting it, so we set out to create a practice that addresses the whole person,” says Dr. Boosalis.
The doctors believe their success is attributable to their passion for their work, authenticity and their trust in their own intuition—with an added dose of grit and karma—but the true key, they say, is their team of nine competent and patient professionals.
“The strength of our team was most clearly demonstrated when we experienced the shutdown during the pandemic. It has never been a more challenging time for therapists to hold space as it was then, because we were also going through the same stress. However, all our employees opted to work every day for three months—without taking a day off—to support those in need,” says Dr. Fisher.
The women say they purposefully selected tenants in their building in order to provide complementary services, such as massage services (The Vital Body) and medical, nutritional and wellness services provided by naturopathic physician, Dr. Patricia Diefenbach (Natural Integrative Medicine), and nurse practitioner, Sonia Palmieri, NP (Tranquil Healthcare). They also plan to hire contractors to their team to provide workshops and classes relevant to the needs of their community.
The doctors say their ultimate goal is to de-stigmatize mental health issues and create an open dialogue surrounding wellness. They seek to provide an easy and enjoyable experience through an organized intake process and offering a warm, comfortable environment for therapy.
Dr. Fisher advises all patients beginning their mental health journey to take control of their care.
“Do not be afraid to ask questions or to be selective with who helps you. A good therapeutic relationship has been found to be the best predictor of treatment success," says Dr. Fisher.
DR. AMY F. PARKS
Based out of Northern Virginia, with offices in Alexandria, Arlington and Winchester, The Wise Family is a psychotherapy practice supporting kids, teens and families, offering individual, group and family counseling, parent coaching and brain-based testing and training.
The Wise Family was founded as a group practice in 2015 by Dr. Amy F Parks. As an Alexandria native, Dr. Parks has spent her entire career working with children, teens and families. The path to entrepreneurship, she says, was a natural progression. “I loved being in schools, but I also loved being the boss.”
Despite the self-admitted “bossiness”, Dr. Parks says the key to her success has been her team building focus and clear brand and mission. “I want to help families build resilient communication and connections.”
Dr. Parks says this is achieved through a myriad of services – from psychoeducational assessment to parent coaching to diversity and inclusion education offered virtually across the country. The focus, she says, is on family – which is how she views her team of experts on child development.
“Our goal is to provide the best possible support to everyone who comes through our doors. We are LBGTQ+ allies, diversity advocates and kid-centered cheerleaders who work together as a family for families.”
The Wise Family practice currently employs 10 child development experts who are licensed or nearing licensure as professional counselors, as well as a Clinical Psychologist and a professional Parent Coach. Dr. Parks believes the services she offers are “more important than ever” as school struggle with managing the volume and intensity of issues that arise for children and teens during a typical school day.
The Wise Family’s work goes beyond just families, connecting with schools, pediatricians, parent groups, and collateral care givers. The goal, Dr. Parks says, is to make mental health care more like physical healthcare, “regular, accessible, normal, helpful and healing”.
Dr. Parks’ biggest piece of advice to someone who is seeking mental health services? “Never stop trying.”